Urban Scrawl 009: Art & Science Learn to Play Nice
My dad is a computer guy, to say the least. What he actually is, is something called a Trans-Human Futurist. Here’s his blog: dambrot.com/criticalthought. I don’t understand a lot of what goes on over there, but through the years we’ve had a good time exploring surprise overlaps of art and science that occur from time to time, bringing us together. A few years ago, we were both in NYC during this remarkable Nanotech show at MOMA, Design and the Elastic Mind; and since then I’ve noticed these kinds of shows happening more and more. What follows today is a round-up of just a very few of these, a smattering of recent, imminent, and ongoing instances of Art & Science tending the same garden. As you might expect, each project takes a slightly different approach to tone, media, and general worldview, but they share a desire to fuse creative and rational pursuits, blurring the boundaries between technologies, using art to understand something special about how the brain actually functions — often by mixing together the languages we use to describe our own existence.
I. 22 Notes on Black Holes by Sidonie Loiseleux for the Material Press February Artist Edition. In the strictest and most exact sense, there are currently 14 known black holes. They are cold remnants of former stars. Black holes are small in size. One may go through a black hole to reach another universe. The term for the event that happens when something falls into a black hole is called spaghettification. This is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes in a very strong gravitational field. In black holes, the stretching is so powerful that no object can withstand it, no matter how strong its components. They absorb light and emit none. They are also called frozen stars or degenerate stars. Nothing, not even light, can escape it. One will merge with another black hole in close proximity. Often the larger ones will suck up the smaller ones. The center of a black hole, the singularity, is the point where the laws of physics break down. At a singularity, space and time cease to exist as we know them. No one has directly seen a black hole itself.
Permanent cavity #1 ( black hole) is part of a series of images related to displacement of matter. Permanent cavity is a ballistic term used to refer to the hole left by the passage of a projectile. The image was xeroxed 22 times. 22 is the number in million of black hole images you can find on the Internet. The image for this project was picked from the 22 million images brought up in a Google search. The accompanying text brings together 22 notes on black holes, chosen from the Internet.
II. Heather Carson
LA-based sculptor and installation artist Heather Carson was once a NY-based theatrical lighting designer whose experimental use of industrial equipment led her to leave the stage for storefronts, airplane hangars, parking lots, and galleries – pursuing her affection for the abstract mathematical structure of lighting-grids and the optical character of indoor/outdoor and spatial perception. Comparisons to Irwin, Flavin, Turrell, and Judd are inevitable, but this work is increasingly about the properties and limitations unique to the electric medium. Watch for her at May’s COLA 2011 show, for which I will have the pleasure of contributing some writing on her work to the catalog.
I recently taped an episode of the webisodic interview program Creative Current with Carson, which I’m told is “adorable.” We definitely had the girlfriends New York coffee chat vibe going, but I include her in this list, because as you’ll see in the story, we get to some rather sober mathematical material in talking about her creative process that I think place her squarely (oops, no pun intended) in this thread of the discourse. It was really (oh gosh, sorry) illuminating, to get a peek into certain things I wouldn’t have guessed, like that she looks at Josef Albers, and constructs the formal parameters of her series based partly on the mathematics electronics companies have already worked out, and partly on the ways in which the variables of indoor, outdoor, industrial, and theatrical lighting push our psychological and emotional buttons.
III. Convergence: Art, Memory, and Science In the work of Deborah Aschheim, Laurie Frick, George Legrady and Brad Miller at Edward Cella Art + Architecture Artists Deborah Aschheim (who recently had a gorgeous show at Edward Cella, Nostalgia for the Future), Laurie Frick (who just closed the show Sleep Patterns at Edward Cella), George Legrady, and Brad Miller (whose show at Edward Cella opens April 23rd) shared an overview of selected recent projects which set the stage for an engaging dialog about the function of artistic inquiry within the cognitive sciences including the roles of personal experience, data collection, and research. There are some media clips from the afternoon at the Gallery’s Facebook Page.
Deborah Aschheim is fascinated with architecture as a site of humanity’s creativity, history, experience, identity; its mechanisms of control, memory, and aspirations. Her expressively rendered drawings, sculptures, and installations also speak to buildings as sources of personal and conceptual inspiration. “All buildings speak to power, simply in the way that they are designed and constructed. The process of putting up a building is a narrative that leaves traces on the collective unconscious of architecture and cities.”
The links to neuroscience are entirely explicit in Laurie Frick’s large-scale sculptural constructions, which use individual objects as elements in an epic charting of human dream-time brain function. The room-filling installation gave physical form and mass to the elusive, abstract algorithms at the heart of what consciousness is.
IV. Brendan Monroe’s new book, Limbic Place. I’ve worked with Brendan before, creating an interpretive Index of Terms for a gorgeous book for him a few years ago. You can check that out HERE. His work has always sought to depict the most elemental origins of consciousness, so he has sort of re-imagined an allegorical universe composed of earth, air, and endocrinology. He once illustrated a New York Times Magazine story about neuroscience and the law, how perfect is that? Locally, he shows with Richard Heller Gallery, though he’s been living in Stockholm for a while now, and it seems to suit him.
This new project is inspired by the Limbic System in the brain, a group of organs that play an important roll in making us who we are; from creating memories to emotional chemical regulation to basic human instincts like sex and hunger. You can buy it HERE. It comes all the way from France, ooh-la-la.
V. Ron English’s solo exhibition You Are Not Here at the International Museum of Art & Science, McAllen, Texas.
My old friend Ron English is more prolific than ever. Between the numerous actions, pranks, guerrilla installations, and who knows what other illegal public art hi-jinx he gets up to, he’s found time to create an ambitious solo show for the International Museum of Art & Science. I like the take on his work that focuses on how he both appropriates and interrupts the accepted flow of information to the mass media culture audience. The press release articulates this scholarly approach to the work of the worlds best visual-art prankster. “For You Are Not Here, Ron English created large scale images modeled after the aesthetic of circus side show posters. The artist chose this motif to point to the fact that mass-media messaging often makes promises that are misleading; much like side show posters tend to promise the viewers an extraordinary experience. However, when one goes behind the curtain, one is often disappointed by what one actually discovers. In the IMAS “You Are Not Here” exhibit, Ron English uses the side show imagery to lead us to the inner sanctum where two mural scale re-imaginations of Picasso’s famous Guernica are revealed. In this way, the artist uses the techniques of mass-media to inspire the audience to contemplate how the American cultural experience is filtered through mass communication.”
VI. Cognitive Architecture From Biopolitics to Noopolitics
I will not attempt to restate the authors’ description of their own work. Partly because their prose is so… intriguing. Partly because I haven’t read it yet so can’t be considered educated on the subject. But I plan to! Here’s what they have to say for themselves, Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noopolitics, co-edited by Deborah Hauptmann and Warren Neidich, brings together experts from a variety of fields to propose a new theoretical ‘Becoming Brain’ model in which evolving cultural conditions are coupled to the potentialities of brain and mind. This volume delineates the radical notion of how artists and architects affected by the changing discursive fields, inflected as they are by such notions as post-colonialism, feminism, film/media theory and racial politics, result in a reconfiguration of networks of attention and subsequently mutate the conditions of, for instance, the socius, designed urban space as well as changes in neurobiological architecture.” Read the rest of the post HERE <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=171663986218324> .
VII: Art vs. Science’s U.S. debut EP, Magic Fountain.
Because like the eye, music is its own window to the soul. Watch the surreally hip, genius DIY artistry of the strangely relevant (to today’s topic) video for the first track HERE. “In the beginning there was a fountain. But it wasn’t just any fountain. It was a fountain of light; it was a fountain of truth; it was a fountain of dreams; it was a fountain of youth. It was a magic fountain.” I believe in this fountain. Even if science can’t prove its existence yet, art is making headway.